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Situational Context

Jefferson County has been aggressively implementing its Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan of 1997 by acquiring significant parcels of parkland, developing natural resource oriented parks, and adding extensive bike trails and bikeways. The western band of Jefferson County has also been identified as a Wisconsin priority “legacy place for parkland acquisition and conservation ” in the DNR’s Land Legacy Plan. The State DNR and County are about to commence the vision refinement and feasibility report which will identify the specific plan for acquiring and protecting significant amounts of land and resources in Jefferson County. A “unit concept” has been embraced by the State and County which could result in a huge, new State park presence in Jefferson County that could suggest a linked, Kettle Moraine State Park-like system of new parks, linked trails and protected adjacent farmlands.

Experienced park management professionals and park advocates see opportunities and are excited about the prospects of the land legacy initiative in Jefferson County. However, there are citizens and officials who are not aware of the significance and benefits of this initiative. Research and study associated with the benefits of this initiative, including both direct and indirect economic impacts, would be valuable in framing this issue for the Jefferson County citizenry. The adjacent communities to the proposed “land legacy” project area have sensed that significant community development opportunities could be associated with this extensive park and trail initiative. The linkage of “Gateway Communities”, “new economy” opportunities, and associated community place-making benefits are key concepts within which to explore the array of benefits that could accrue from this initiative. Jefferson County (its Parks Committee/Director and office of the University of Wisconsin – Extension) has expressed interest and funding for several groups of planning consultant teams to explore and assess the economic benefits of parks, recreation facilities, trails and public conservancy areas.


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